Salivary mucin suppresses natural transformation of cavity-causing Streptococcus mutans

Poster Session: 

A

Presenter: 

Caroline Werlang

Authors: 

Caroline Werlang, Wes Chen, and Katharina Ribbeck

Author Affiliation: 

MIT Department of Biological Engineering

Abstract: 

Salivary mucin MUC5B is a glycoprotein polymer that gives saliva many of its chemical and physical properties. It has previously been shown that the polymer MUC5B prevents biofilm formation of cavity-causing Streptococcus mutans. Since, biofilm formation and competence pathways are linked through quorum sensing, we hypothesize that MUC5B may inhibit natural transformation of S. mutans. Here, we show that MUC5B reduces transformation of S. mutans in both biofilm and planktonic states, suggesting that production of MUC5B is a method the host uses to suppress virulence and gene transfer.